Resolution: Trust Your Volunteers

January 18, 2018

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Written By: Thom

By Thom Peters


This January, the DBD Team is making resolutions to help us be better. Today Thom tells us why we need to resolve to trust our volunteers.  


I love working with volunteers and, in the right circumstances, I love volunteering.

For the past five years I have been a part of a group through my church that runs a food pantry one Saturday morning a month. Next to family and career, this is probably my longest relationship. Why have I stuck with it for so long?

There are many reasons, but I think they boil down to these:

It is work I am suited for.

I enjoy the group of people I work with.

The work is of great impact.

They need us.

Cheryl, who managed the place, met with our team in the beginning of our shift and then left us to take care of the work. She trusted us and our experience. Frankly, we are hot stuff.

But in the last few months, something changed. He showed up. He is a gentleman hired to work with the volunteers.

Now, this is fine for most volunteer groups who aren’t as tenured, but not for hot stuff volunteers who know what they are doing. (Like us.) Instead of feeling needed and productive, we felt controlled and micromanaged. Procedures kept changing. We used to leave our shift feeling joyful on the ride home, but now there was a sense that we did not bring the value to the work that we had in the past.

I’m beginning to suspect there might be another organization out there that can make better use of my hot-stuff volunteer skills.

This has caused me to look at my own work in the coming year. In 2018 I resolve to:

  1. Make sure I am asking volunteers to do work that they are suited for and will find satisfaction in.
  2. Prepare them by giving them training and tools to be successful
  3. Assuming 1 and 2 are in place – stand back and let them volunteer. Show them that I trust and value their work.

While some volunteer management is always needed, I resolve to let the hot stuff volunteers I work with show me just how awesome they can be.

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4 responses to “Resolution: Trust Your Volunteers”

  1. jon Jon says:

    This is such a great reminder. Thanks Thom

  2. John Alexander says:

    Thom, there is indeed an art to working with…and using….volunteers. Thanks for your perspective, but don’t be TOO quick to let the new circumstances derail the cause and good impact that your group generates.

  3. Sue Ann Walczak says:

    Amen!